They're heading out to the Italian city of Padua and they're taking their hopes and prayers with them: In fact there are more than 300,000 petitions. But before they do that trip, they made sure they visited Rome for a chance to see Pope Francis.
FRAY CLEMENTE DOTTI
Antonian Association (Brazil)
"We have a strong devotion towards St. Anthony of Padua. He's present in our parishes and also in our families. In Brazil, we have a group of 240,000 people who pray every day for families, priests, vocations and they also write out prayer petitions submitted by others.”
Every year, this group organizes a pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of St. Anthony in Lisbon and then another in Padua, Italy. This year, the pilgrimage will end in the Holy Land.
The group prays for religious vocations. They also raise funds so that youths who don't have enough resources, can carry out their vocational studies.
FR. CLEMENTE DOTTI
Spiritual Director Antoniana Association (Brazil)
"Donors make an annual contribution that we then send to the missions. For example, we are helping out in Haiti.”
Fray Clemente, who heads the group, said that one of the most moving moment of the general audience with the Pope was when he asked everyone to pray the Hail Mary together to mark the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima.
"Now, I ask my Portuguese friends to pray the Hail Mary in Portuguese for Our Lady.”
St. Anthony of Padua was born in Portugal, but his devotion is quite strong in Brazil. When many Portuguese immigrants moved to Brazil, they took their tradition with them and their devotion to St. Anthony.